Graphic Novels on Graphic Reproductions and a Mystery from Kindt & Co. | Xpress Reviews

Week ending June 15, 2018

Graphic Reproduction: A Comics Anthology. Pennsylvania State Univ. (Graphic Medicine, Bk. 11). May 2018. 232p. ed. by Jenell Johnson. ISBN 9780271080949. pap. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780271081434. GRAPHIC HEALTH/MED
Shell-shocked from seven years of unsuccessful fertility treatments, Johnson (communication arts, Univ. of Wisconsin-Madison; American Lobotomy: A Rhetorical History) illustrated the ordeal in order to gain control. That story, “Present / Perfect,” is included here, along with 11 other accounts related to reproduction beyond “normative” childbearing. In Joyce Farmer and Lyn Chevli’s “Abortion Eve,” five diverse women bond while undergoing the procedure. Paula Knight’s “Spooky Womb” and “X Utero” depict a personified uterus that reminds her of her ticking biological clock, yet her resulting pregnancy miscarries. An excerpt from A.K. Summers’s memoir Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag reveals how her pregnancy shattered expectations of both friends and medical folks, while Alison Bechdel’s character Toni (from Spawn of Dykes To Watch Out For) gives birth at home with help from midwife partner Clarisse and their lesbian allies. Another selection addresses stillbirth, but none address adoption or disability. The art ranges widely in technique—simple line sketches to more detailed realistic renderings, some in color. Exercises at the end challenge readers to engage with the content and draw their own reactions.
Verdict Essential for anyone concerned with reproductive health care, this collection will also supply much-needed perspective to parents and would-be parents.—Martha Cornog, Philadelphia

Kindt, Matt (text) & Tyler Jenkins & Jim Campbell (illus.). Grass Kings. Vol. 1. Boom! Studios. Feb. 2018. 176p. ISBN 9781684151158. $29.99. MYS/CRIME FICTION
A little-known American lake with a sinister history of murder and blood sacrifice is the location for a cluster of rundown utopian bailiwicks. The borders of three, self-sustaining communities are jealously and lethally guarded by one of three brothers—Ashur, Bruce, and Robert—all constables, and all feuding. When a strange woman literally floats into Robert’s village from neighboring Cargill, protected by rival sheriff Humbert, smoldering tensions rise, and a fragile truce is shattered. A turf war is eminent. Will this be just another annihilation of lakeside populations like so many dozens before, or will capricious fate intervene? Artist Jenkins (Peter Panzerfaust; Snow Blind), joined by letterer Campbell, creates a lovely painterly style that, though delicate to the eye, carries this complex tale well, while Harvey Award–winning, Eisner-nominated Kindt (Dept. H; Mind MGMT) scripts a robust narrative that demands rapid page turning.
Verdict Suspense addicts and those who enjoy the sheer craftsmanship of graphic art designed by a watercolor master can’t help but enjoy this. Nice binding and a gallery of additional illustrations in the final section contribute to an overall classy work. [Volume 2 in the ongoing series is coming this month.—Ed.]—Russell Miller, formerly with Prescott P.L., AZ

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